Marietta Conner, 63, is mother and grandmother to everyone and welcomes all to her home if they abide by her rules.
Conner, who lives alone and never had children of her own, instills in her “children” a list of rules that include keeping shoes tied, saying yes ma’am and no ma’am, keeping trash off her lawn, and always saying thank you.
Most of the 19 children who came to her house Friday could recite the rules, and if they forgot she had them do jumping jacks or pushups on her lawn. Most did so with smiles on their faces.
Even the mothers were not safe if they forgot a rule.
Elizabeth Booker attended for her stepson and two stepdaughters, who had learned Momma Doc was giving away bicycles, but she was doing jumping jacks before the party was over.
Booker met Momma Doc in 2008 and has sought her out for answers and as a positive
role model for the children.
“There are some days I can’t get by,” she said. “I talk to (Momma Doc), and she shows me the way. I wish (the people in the neighborhood) could have more, but as long as she’s here, we’ll be fine.”
Before the children circled the block on their new bicycles – donated by Conner’s friend Thomas Hunter – they had to demonstrate their knowledge.
During the A-Z game, children took turns saying a word for every letter in the alphabet. The next round required bigger words that had to be used in a sentence.
“Use big words,” Conner said. “I don’t want any apples, cats or dogs.”
Throughout the day, smaller children had to recite their ABCs while older ones had to stand at attention and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Mothers and fathers were required to say why it was important for children to have a man or woman in their lives before they could take their plates of beans and rice.
“She’s like another mother,” Booker said. “Everybody loves Momma Doc to death.”
Not everyone left with a bike. The new owners were chosen from a list of 94 neighborhood children based on the number of their visits during the year for lessons and advice. Children with the most visits got the first choice of bikes.